with special guest Casey
Sometime last year, Eric Hutchinson came to a strange realization: he kept daydreaming about high-school. It had been over twenty years since the singer-songwriter had graduated from
Montgomery Blair High School, yet his adolescent dreams, hopes, fears, anxieties and emotions the singer faced as a kid began flooding back; suddenly, the singer felt transported back into his
teenage self. Growing up in suburban Maryland, Hutchinson’s teenage years were filled with the type of alienation and private angst recognizable to most anyone who’s ever been 16. Twenty-
plus years later, the singer was finally ready to write about it. The result: Class of 98, a 90’s alt-rock-inspired autobiographical record that chronicles the singer-songwriter’s adolescence.
“It took me a long time to understand myself,” Hutchinson says. “Writing this record allowed me to get into the time machine and go back and look around my old life and report from my current
point of view. That was fun. The problems were waiting for me: Who likes me? Why doesn’t this person want to be around me? Why don’t I understand myself?”
After experimenting with a series of genres like Americana/soul and jazz on his last few albums Modern Happiness and Before and After Life, the singer-songwriter turned to the pop-punk alt-
rock of his youth for the riff-heavy Class of 98, taking inspiration from bands like Green Day, Oasis, and Weezer. “That music is in my guitar DNA,” says the singer. “I love 90’s music, and
this type of sound was so formative for me.” To help round out his sound, Hutchinson recruited Justin Sharbono (formerly of Soul Asylum) to offer his distinctive (and period appropriate) guitar
playing on the album. Hutchinson also enlisted the sonic guidance and mixing talents of Paul Kolderie, who’d made great 90’s records with bands like Radiohead, Hole, The Lemonheads,
Buffalo Tom and The Pixies.
For Hutchinson, taking such an imaginative leap with a concept as specifically personal of Class of 98 was an artistic risk he knew he needed to take. “I don’t think people want me to keep
making the same record, as much as anyone might think they do,” he says.
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